Review: Vampire Circus (Blu-ray)

2010/12/17 23:31:18 +00:00 | Jonathan James

Vampire Circus is a cult classic Hammer Horror movie that has long been sought-after on DVD.  Thankfully, those looking for a restored and unedited version have to wait no longer, as Synapse Films has released a fantastic version of Vampire Circus on Blu-ray and DVD.

In the past I was lucky enough to catch a barely edited print at a drive-in marathon a few years back, and I really enjoyed how different Vampire Circus was from the traditional Hammer film. When many people think of Hammer Horror, they immediately think Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but in the 1970’s Hammer Horror was in decline and we saw a mix of new properties that strayed from the traditional Dracula and Frankenstein movies which made Hammer famous.

Although there was plenty of nudity in The Vampire LoversCountess Dracula and a number of Hammer films in the 70’s, Vampire Circus really upped the ante on the gore, number of deaths, and also included plenty of nudity which was really a departure from the earlier classic Hammer films. The problem with this was that by the time Vampire Circus made it to the US, the prints were heavily edited to remove much of the gore and nudity, so many fans who have seen Vampire Circus over the years have never seen the full version. This release includes the full unedited version, so it was nice to finally watch the film as it was meant to be seen.

Vampire Circus starts out with an attack on the vampire Count Mitterhaus and his castle. A villager has discovered that the Count is using the villager’s wife to lure and kill children. The Count is able to feed on one last child before the villagers break in and stake the Count in the chest. Unfortunately, they don’t kill off Anna Muller, the count’s companion, and she helps him with his promised revenge on the people of the village.

Fifteen years pass and we find the town being ravaged by a plague and in a state of quarantine. Thankfully, a traveling circus rolls into town to help provide some entertainment and ease the town’s worries. Once townspeople start turning up dead, however, the villagers suspect the circus and Count may be behind it.

Vampire Circus delivers exactly what you expect from this type of move. You get vampires, circus entertainment, and the cheesiness, girls, and deaths we expect from Hammer films. It’s a fun film to watch and definitely worth your time if you are a Hammer fan that has never seen it .

Synapse Films has done a great job on the restoration of this film. It just looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray and they have included some great extras on the disc as well, including a documentary on the making of Vampire Circus, a retrospective on the House of Hammer magazine, and more.

We haven’t seen too many classic cult horror releases on Blu-ray and I really think this sets the bar for what other studios should do in the future. Even if you don’t have a Blu-ray player yet, this is offered as a combo pack, so you do get the DVD version as well, which still looks really good.

If you are a Hammer Horror fan, you’re going to want to pick this one up. It is a long sought-after Hammer Horror gem that has received a great restoration and is worth your support and money if you like classic horror films.

Film Score: 3/5  Blu-ray Score: 4/5